Binay to DOLE: Pay working students now

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The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) must ensure that students who work during the summer and the Christmas season are paid within the 11-day period required under the law, Vice President Jejomar Binay said on Tuesday.

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Binay’s camp had noted the delay in the release of DOLE’s 40-percent share in the payment for working students under the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) in 2013.

“This shows us that the poor students did not receive what was due them during the required period. The government, through DOLE, failed to augment their income to help them continue their education as envisioned by the law,” Joey Salgado, chief of the media affairs unit of the Office of the Vice President, said on Tuesday.

A recently-released 2013 report from the Commission on Audit showed that payment for 54,177 students under the SPES totalling P139 million was delayed for 1-441 days, resulting in some students not being able to claim their wages.

COA reported the delays in: National Capital Region or Metro Manila, 5,964 beneficiaries, P22,133,239.12 in wages, 1,433 days delayed; Region I (Ilocos Region), 5,740 beneficiaries, P15,257,752.16, 7-10 days delayed; Region II (Cagayan Valley), 5,910 beneficiaries, P10,394,859.87, 6-240 days delayed; Region III (Central Luzon), 782 beneficiaries, P1,680,214.58, 30-330 days delayed; Region IV-A (Calabarzon), 9,084 beneficiaries, P34,411,777.78, 7-193 days delayed; Region IV-B (Mimaropa), 4,054 beneficiaries, P7,786,587.10, 28-257 days delayed; Region VI (Western Visayas), 8,183 beneficiaries, P16,312,573.65, 2-259 days delayed; and Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula), 3,706 beneficiaries, P6,143,903.16, 30-87 days delayed.

Salgado said he hopes the use of an automated system of SPES by DOLE’s Bureau of Local Employment will speed up the process.

According to DOLE, it has developed an information technology system to establish a database of SPES beneficiaries nationwide and facilitate their claims for salaries.

COA reported that 1,052 checks amounting to P2,304,476.19 prepared from July 2004 to June 2013 remained unclaimed and became stale.

Another set of 1,619 checks covering the total amount of P4,967,876.94 prepared from July to December 2013 were not released or claimed.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz herself said “over P2 million worth of individual checks for 988 SPES beneficiaries have became stale due to inadequate documentation” in 2013.

The SPES, which was instituted when Republic Act 7323 was signed into law in March 1992, aims “to help the poor but deserving students pursue their education by providing income or augment their income through encouraging their employment during summer and/or Christmas vacations.”

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